Scripture Memory Tips
Up until recently, memorizing Scripture was something I had always been interested in, but was also really intimidated by. I didn’t know where or how to start and I was pretty sure I’d be terrible at it. Last year I finally committed to making Scripture memory part of my regular Bible reading routine. This post is full of the tips that helped me memorize Scripture.
Also, be sure to check out part two featuring lots of resources that I’ve found incredibly helpful as I memorize Scripture.
Why Memorize Scripture?
But why should you memorize Scripture anyway?
Scripture Memory Stores Up God’s Word in Our Hearts
Well, just as I said about regular Bible reading, Scripture memory helps us hide God’s Word in our hearts. This concept comes from Psalm 119:11 (one of my memory verses from last week). The ESV reads: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” With Bible study we can store up the concepts and ideas we discover in God’s Word; with Scripture memory we store up the Word itself.
Bible passages we’ve memorized are always accessible to us. We will be able to recall them in times of trial or temptation. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), our only offensive weapon against the forces of evil. In difficult times, having immediate access to the comfort and conviction of Scripture is incredibly beneficial. If you ever find yourself in a situation without access to a Bible, you still have the Word of God. You can always rely on the passages that you’ve memorized hidden in your heart.
I’ve always been inspired by stories of how those who experience Christian persecution will memorize every passage of Scripture they can get their hands on before it gets confiscated. I am free to read the Bible whenever I want, but I want the Word of God in my heart and in my mind. The access we have to the Bible (in both physical copies and online) is a wonderful gift, but I don’t want to be stuck without it if that access goes away for some reason.
I challenged myself to memorize as much of the Bible as I could in my lifetime. So far I’ve been memorizing Scripture for just over a year, and I hope to continue for the rest of my life.
5 Tips for Scripture Memorization
These tips have helped me so much in memorizing Scripture. Whether you’re just starting your Scripture memory journey or looking to improve on your method, I hope they’re helpful to you too.
1. Make a Plan that Works for You
The first thing to do is to decide when to work on your verses and how much time you can commit. For me, Scripture memory became part of my daily Bible reading habit. Someone else may prefer having a separate time just for Scripture memory. I know some review their verses throughout the day, leaving cards around their house or office.
You can plan to do one verse a week or one verse a day depending on what you think you can handle. Keep in mind that doing one verse a day will result in having more verses to review each week. Depending on how often you review each verse, this affects how long each session will take.
2. Study the Scripture You Memorize
As you memorize Scripture study it too. Ask questions, look up cross-references, check out a commentary, get to understand the passage you’re memorizing.
There are two main reasons to do this. First, memorizing the Bible isn’t as important as understanding the Bible. Someone who memorizes a verse but misunderstands what it means isn’t going to have as much benefit as someone who may not be able to recite it, but is familiar with the concept.
The second reason to study as you memorize Scripture is that understanding the meaning of a passage will help you to remember it. In turn, I have also found that in memorizing a passage, as I repeatedly read, write, and recite it, I end up understanding it better.
3. Practice Verses by Writing and Reciting
I’ve memorized passages of Scripture by primarily reciting them and I’ve memorized other passages primarily by writing them out. Over the past year I’ve decided that there are benefits to both, so now I incorporate recitation and writing as I memorize Scripture.
Speaking is obviously much quicker than writing, so when I primarily recited my verses I found it difficult to slow down enough to write them accurately, and I would easily miss things. When I primarily wrote my verses out, I struggled to recite them because I wasn’t used to remembering them that quickly. Basically, whether I was reciting or writing it was hard to switch to the other method.
Because I want to know the verses I’m memorizing really well and be able to either recite them or write them out, I decided to practice both ways.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Memorizing Long Passages
This may seem counter-intuitive, but realizing I could actually memorize long passages of Scripture is what finally got me started in Scripture memory.
When I was first thinking about trying Scripture memory, I assumed that I should just memorize a bunch of individual Bible verses. I had a few concerns, however. First, I didn’t know which verses I should memorize. Second, as I memorized I also wanted to understand each verse in its context. Finally, Scripture memory was a habit that I hoped would continue throughout my life. Memorizing a bunch of individual verses didn’t seem to be the best plan for my goals. But I didn’t think I’d be able to memorize long passages either. So for a few years, even though part of me wanted to memorize Scripture, I didn’t.
Finally I realized that memorizing longer passages, even entire books, was something I could actually do. It took time and effort, but it was possible.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t memorize individual verses, in fact the Scripture memory plan I’m doing right now is primarily made up of individual verses. The point is simply that there are many benefits to memorizing longer passages of Scripture—and that it’s not as impossible as it may seem. By working on one new verse a day, you can have an entire chapter memorized in just a few weeks.
5. Be Consistent
When it comes to memorization, consistent practice is important. Looking at your verses only once or twice a week probably won’t have very good results. Memorizing Scripture takes time as you repeat, recite, and review each verse. It generally takes me at least three days of reviewing a verse before I can really remember it. Even then, I still have to review it regularly for it to stay memorized for an extended period of time.
Some veres come easier than others, but if you’re diligent your efforts will be rewarded. I practice my memory verses five to six days a week, learning a new verse each time. I’m still surprised at the progress I’ve made and how often a verse I’ve memorized comes to mind in relevant situations.
If you want to memorize Scripture, use any of these tips and go for it. I’m sure it will help you to grow in understanding and familiarity with the Bible. Also, be sure to check out our article sharing a variety of Scripture memory tools and resources.
The purpose of this post is to encourage Christians to challenge themselves in their daily walk with Christ. For many, Bible memorization is a great option. There are, however, some conditions which make memorization and recall incredibly difficult, if not impossible. If this is you, the last thing I want is for this article to discourage you. Studying and meditating on the Bible is a worthy pursuit even if memorization is not the result. Reading the Bible out loud, writing passages into a notebook by hand, or listening to an audio Bible are just a few ideas for how you could gain familiarity with a Scripture passage outside of memorization.
If there’s any interest in collecting some of these ideas in a separate article, let me know in the comments.